Under Lock & Quay

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Despite having spent two decades in the one place, there are still a multitude of restaurants and bars that I haven't visited. I've barely scratched the surface in fact, it's quite amazing. The contemporary dining scene is an ever evolving beast. We've seen the emergence of small bars in Sydney (FTW!), 'dude' food (enter: deep fat fryer) and Mexican is having a major moment. Fads come and go but there are few restaurants that have stood the test of time and come out swinging on the fine dining scene. Quay is certainly one of the above.  

Amuse bouche: goats cheese with capers, roe, olive crumbs and dill. In the tiniest glass we were served the first treat. A lovely balance of textures and flavours, to jumpstart the palate

Ranking 48th Restaurant in the World and 3 chefs hats for 12 consecutive years, Quay has been sitting right at the top of my foodie bucket list for the longest time. It's the epitome of fine dining in my home town and tonight was the night! The restaurant itself makes a bold statement in polished metal and floor to ceiling glass windows. Perched atop the Overseas Passenger Terminal it affords some pretty prime views of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Although I do have an axe to grind about all the cruise liners that virtually eclipse it all (everyday during peak season).

Congee of Northern Australian mud crab, fresh palm heart, egg yolk emulsion. This was an instant favourite on the table!

With its stellar reputation for execution of technique and marrying native Australian and Asian influences, Quay barely needs the publicity. But it was certainly the feature of a certain dessert on TV that got my attention. The 'original' guava snow egg featured on Masterchef Season 1 was just about IT for me. I was completely sold and dying to try it for myself. After that came the 8 texture chocolate cake. Oh mah gawd... Don't try that one at home, it's doomed to fail. Essentially, Peter Gilmore seems to know what he's doing (massive understatement). It's been Restaurant of the Year just how many times now..?

Sashimi of local lobster, bergamot, young almonds, grapefruit, elderflowers. Look, if you're going to give sashimi anything a crack, I think Quay is the place. The sashimi (cut so thin it is barely perceptible in the dish!) is draped on a hill of tiny grapefruit segments - each individually picked! The lobster meat is so delicate that it is slightly overpowered by the strong circusy tang of the grapefruit

The service for one, is quite exceptional. I could only describe it as 'ultra' professional, it's definitely up another notch. The whole  evening functions like a well oiled machine, the service is almost choreographed. You get precisely what you pay for, and that's quite a relief. The starched white tablecloths act as a blank slate for each successive course. After each the plates are whisked away and new cutlery replaced, gleaming. Degustation dedicates a lot of time to ritual and routine.

Line caught iku mime Tasmanian squid, squid ink custard, society garlic, pink turnips. Wowsers, this was a great dish, the squid was cooked beautifully and so tenderrrr. If you didn't know you'd think they were noodles!  

One of the very best things is the surprise and delight when each dish hits the table. A sigh of joy, wonder and anticipation settles around the table. It's so wonderful! You can't even begin to fathom how a dish was made let alone the conception of each dish. Gilmore is clearly an ideas man, quite the genius. And the beauty! You can barely start digging in for spoiling it! 

The mains:

Poached Rangers Valley beef, bitter chocolate black pudding, morel, ezekiel crumbs, shaved mushrooms. Such an interesting flavour combination in that sauce

Suffolk lamb loin, eggplant skin and olive purée, sheeps milk crème fraîche, fresh and preserved flowers. Meltingly good...

Roasted snapper, Japanese white turnips, barletta onions, sauce made from the roe. Flowers have never looked this appetising...

Berkshire pig jowl, maltose crackling, prunes, cauliflower cream, perfumed with prune kernel oil. The faux crackling nearly fooled me, apart from the sickly sweetness. The cream was incredibly smooth and the primes a lovely richness that matched the pork perfectly. YUM

Wait for it...!

Sampling each of these delightful dishes I couldn't help but wonder where restaurants like this are heading. Gilmore's food is at once harmonious, balanced and considered to the 'n'- th degree. Quite extraordinary considering the surge of American, fast food-type that has become so popular. Well, Quay is basically their diametric opposite. My concern is that these legendary institutions are destined to become museum pieces. The state of the economy is undeniable and these restaurants need to stay in the game with good business acumen. The prix fixe or lunch special is just one way to keep ahead.

Quay's eight texture chocolate cake. The drama in this dish is swoon-worthy. The warm chocolate sauce melts through the centre of the cake. It is at once complex and so simple, certainly something to behold! 

The highest of highs in the dessert world. Coconut and cherry snow egg, an exclusive for the summer. Surprisingly it is quite a sizeable dessert (all the more for eating & adoring)! Mind. blown.

The not-to-be-missed macro shot. Poached meringue, cherry granita and fresh cherries. The latter being so essential to a true Australian summer. So many elements that have been utterly perfected. This is an iconic dish, if there ever was one. AMAZING

Quay is just one of those places that you need to experience for yourself. The critiques are the minutest of minute, it's practically flawless. Gilmore and his team in the kitchen deserve praise for the time, dedication and effort put towards every component of each dish (of which there are sometimes dozens). Find your excuse and save the date, mind you it could be 6 months away if you're hoping for a Saturday night. An essential dining experience in my book!

To top it all off, there are these beautiful views to boot! #touristinmyowncity

Thanks for reading this rather epic instalment!
Quay on Urbanspoon



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